–HELLOWEEN: The Time of the Oath (Retro Review, 1996)

(This review was originally published in Kollnot Music #3, Summer 1996. Look for new reviews of classic albums, contemporary new releases, and West Michigan local music content in the coming weeks and months of 2018).

–HELLOWEEN: The Time of the Oath (Castle Records, 1996)


“We Burn” gets the new Helloween disc off to a fast and glorious start, and the German power metal lords don’t let up from there. Not only is this Helloween’s heaviest effort in years, and an immense improvement over ’94s mediocre Master of the Rings, but it marks the welcome return of Helloween’s famous dual guitar interplay and great songwriting.

Unlike MOTR, The Time of the Oath doesn’t suffer from average songwriting, lethargic tempos, and inane lyrics. These new songs feature straight-ahead speed reminscent of the Keeper years, as well as the excellent neo-classical lead guitarwork of Michael Weikath and Roland Grapow. While their last few albums lacked the breathless twin-guitar leads Helloween is famous for, here they are packed into the majority of the songs. “Steel Tormentor” and “Before the War” feature two of the catchiest choruses in recent memory, and yet the songs still manage to run at a brisk pace.

Other, slower songs like “Wake Up the Mountain” and “A Million to One,” manage to mesmerize the listener with their catchy riffs and vibrant dynamic contrasts. “Mission Motherland” and the epic title track demonstrate that ‘Ween haven’t lost their ability to write elaborate, fantasy-based songs.

TOTO is the second album for Helloween’s third vocalist, Andi Deris, and he basically succeeds at fueling these songs with the feeling and emotion that great power metal requires. However, Deris‘ Paul Di’anno-esquerasp is an acquired taste, and a clearer voice may be better suited for a band the caliber of Helloween. Also, when will they learn to STOP balladeering? The two ballads here, “Forever and One (Neverland)” and “If I Knew ” are cheesy, pretentious, and totally inappropriate for the album.–Jonathan Kollnot

~ by jonnyboyrocker on February 7, 2018.

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